Ranking the 5 Best Fits for the Montreal Canadiens in the 2013 NHL Draft
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In the interest of full disclosure, by the time the Montreal Canadiens make the 25th-overall selection in the 2013 NHL entry draft, the consensus top three prospects—defenseman Seth Jones and centers Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin—are likely to be taken.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is this year’s draft is considered to be relatively deep, and Montreal should, in theory, still be able to nab a future star. With three picks in the top 40 and four in the first two rounds, there’s an even greater chance. Just look at the 2003 draft, probably the deepest in recent memory, for proof.
While relative bust Anthony Stewart was taken 25th, Corey Perry was still available, as were Loui Eriksson, Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, Corey Crawford, David Backes, Jimmy Howard, Joe Pavelski, Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien and, yes, even Jaroslav Halak, chosen by your Habs.
Of course, the Habs did choose Kontinental Hockey League-castoff Andrei Kostitsyn 10th overall. Dustin Brown, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler and Mike Richards were also available at that point. As such, it’s clear that Montreal fans are guaranteed very little except a lot of excitement, speculation and good times all around leading up to June 30.
With that, here are the top five prospects who stand a good chance being available by the time the Habs pick (barring them moving up) and could be good fits:
5. Eric Comrie G
Tri-City American Eric Comrie makes a stick save.
Montreal may have Carey Price as the team’s undisputed starting goalie, but they don’t have anyone else projected as being capable of taking over the reins once Price’s time in Montreal comes to an end. If for nothing else, the Habs should draft a goalie for depth at the position as an insurance policy.
That goalie should be Eric Comrie of the Tri-City Americans.
Comrie is not the top-ranked goalie in this year’s draft. That honor belongs to Memorial Cup-winning goalie Zachary Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads. Hell, according to International Scouting Services’ final rankings, Comrie’s not even in the top three (via TSN.ca). However, if given the chance, Montreal should still choose him for a number of reasons.
For starters, he still has upside to the point of being ranked second among North American goalies by Central Scouting (via TSN.ca), so it’s not as if the Habs would be throwing away a pick choosing just some goalie at random.
While minor hip surgery forced him to miss a good chunk of the season, that could play to Montreal’s favor. The injury is likely the reason he dropped off ISS’ radar. He is expected to make a full recovery, further indicating he has the talent and skill to become a starter in the NHL.
The ability to handle the rigors of life in the limelight may also run in his family, with Hilary Duff being his sister-in-law and everything (not so much Duff’s husband, Mike Comrie, being his half-brother).
There is also the fact that Comrie plays for Price’s alma mater. It’s not a big reason why the Habs should choose him, but it could serve as a way for the two to bond and make Price more willing to take him under his wing.
Finally, there is a good chance that Fucale may simply be gone by the time the 25th pick rolls around. Craig Button of TSN has him ranked seventh overall. Comrie, meanwhile, projects as a safe second or third-round pick with a lot of upside.
Even if Fucale is still available, the Habs should still balk at the opportunity to take him as choosing a goalie in the first round is generally a bad idea. The simple truth is goalies tend to develop at a much slower pace than players at other positions.
By taking a goalie in the first round, one runs the risk of missing out on a top skater when a goalie who ends up being just as good (or better) could have been had in a later round.
Just look at the first-overall pick of the 2003 draft, Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s the backup goalie over on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ bench, FYI.
4. Adam Erne LW
Quebec Rempart Adam Erne highlights.
Adam Erne, the Quebec Remparts winger, may not figure into the top 30 in ISS’ June 2 rankings. He may only be ranked 26th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, but that just might make him all the more of a bargain if the Habs were able to nab him in the second round.
Blessed with two early-round picks, the 34th and 36th, the Habs could very well see Erne slide out of the first round and into their welcoming arms.
How else to receive a 6’1”, 210-pound left-winger that put up 28 goals and 72 points this past season and, according to NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr, “will battle and play physical when needed”?
For the record, there are no guarantees Erne will still be available in the second round. ISS and Central Scouting only provide rankings based on their perception of players, not that of NHL coaches and general managers. Erne is highly touted, to be clear, which might make him more of a potential first-round pick by Montreal.
In any case, the Connecticut native would likely fit in great with Max Pacioretty, in particular, and not just because they share the same home state. Erne has drawn comparisons to, of all people, former linemate Erik Cole for his physical game and forecheck, according to Last Word on Sports.
Admittedly, his disappearing act in each season’s early going needs work and is nowhere near the quality of magic show Cole perfected during his time in Montreal, but that bodes better for any team lucky enough to draft him.
3. Samuel Morin D
Samuel Morin playing for Canada's National Men's U-18 team.
The Habs do have a lot of good, young defensemen in their system, but when the opportunity to draft a 6’7”, 200-pound defenseman with some offensive potential comes around, you jump at the chance. Hell, when a 6’7” defenseman comes around, you may need to jump just to shake his hand.
Enter Rimouski Oceanic Samuel Morin. He plays with an edge, isn’t afraid to drop the gloves, and owns, as you might guess, a hard slap shot. While he has problems dealing with speedy forwards, his skating is generally good and he is projected as a top-four defenseman down the road, according to Last Word on Sports.
P.K. Subban’s brother, Jordan, is also available and might even go undrafted until the second round. However, as much as his older brother is beloved in Montreal, one has to wonder if the Habs, the city or even the league as a whole is ready for two Subbans on one team.
Conversely, while the Habs’ Nathan Beaulieu (6’1”, 182 lbs) and Jarred Tinordi (6’6”, 205 lbs) seem ready to take the next step professionally, one can never have enough big men on the blue line.
The fact that Morin is from Quebec is also a plus, even though it really shouldn’t have to be but, alas, that’s the nature of hockey in Montreal. Montrealers are always looking for a local hero. It just so happens Morin is actually built like one.
2. Anthony Mantha RW
Val d'Or Foreur Anthony Mantha highlights.
Taking the whole local hero thing to the next level, Val d’Or Foreur Anthony Mantha is almost as much of a beast as Morin, but, more notably, he is the grandson of former Hab Andre Pronovost.
Granted, Blake Geoffrion also had famous ties to the organization. He was never projected as anything more than a third-liner, but, standing 6’4” and weighing 190 pounds, Mantha would give Montreal some much-needed size on the wing in the future coupled with loads of skill.
To go along with his size, Mantha has a great shot, according to SB Nation. As a rookie in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Mantha put up 51 points in 63 games to place fourth in team scoring. This year, he notched 89 points in just four more games but, perhaps more impressively, scored 50 goals in the process.
The Longueuil native was born one day after the cut-off for last year’s draft, meaning there might be a reason he’s as big as he is, but it also means he’s likely more NHL-ready than most others in this particular draft class.
The Habs may not necessarily see it that way with the big club already rife with young talent, not desperate for depth, and questions about his work ethic and physical play perhaps requiring him to develop for a few years in the minors.
Mantha is nevertheless a potential power forward worth considering.
1. Max Domi C/LW
London Knight Max Domi sets up fellow-Knight Bo Horvat.
When all is said and done, the best fit for Montreal will undeniably be the best player still available when the Habs get to pick. That could very possibly be Max Domi.
He may only be 5’9”, and the Habs should theoretically be looking for size on top of skill, but he is nearly 200 pounds, and how could the Habs theoretically resist taking a guy who some have going as high as in the top five, via SB Nation?
Domi is ranked as the 19th-best North American skater by Central Scouting (via TSN.ca) and 25th overall by International Scouting Services (via TSN.ca), meaning there is at least a chance he will still be around late in the first round.
However, as recently as late April, Bob McKenzie of TSN had him as just barely missing his personal Top 10. After all, leading the London Knights in both regular-season and playoff scoring, Domi has undeniable skill and would theoretically be a good fit just about anywhere.
While the Toronto Maple Leafs might have something to say about that, him being the son of former fan favorite Tie Domi and the Leafs set to pick four spots earlier, anything can happen at the draft.
And, really, wouldn’t giving Montreal an opportunity to stick it to Toronto time and again make him the best fit of all?